You've been invited to an event and the invitation reads "Dress To Impress". Hmmm, sometimes you're impressed that you remembered pants that day, so does that count?
Here's some helpful guidelines to dispel the mystery. Starting with the shoes and working our way up, here's what should (and shouldn't) be on your body.
Shoes - Obviously no gym sneakers. Sketchers, while ok for casual parties are a bit low brow for a stylin crowd. That doesn't mean you have to break out those uncomfortable dress shoes, plenty of in between options like a slip on, driving moc, or streamline street shoe. Extra bonus points if you opt out of black. Style isn't about matching, it's about coordinating- color shoes add excitement to traditional color schemes and look great with denim. You don't have to go out full technicolor either, a grey or color accented shoe can also step up your overall look.
Pants - Most clubs and party venues now welcome jeans- not dad jeans, well cut, unripped (unless you're with the band) modern wash jeans. If you prefer a trouser, flat front only. Again, go beyond black, like a taupe with subtle print of glen plaid or window pane can coordinate with almost anything. Lightweight wool or linen for a summer event will keep you cool as the room fills up. Keep the socks in line with the color of your pants, remember the ankle is an extension of the leg. You can also go for a creative print, but avoid silly novelties like cartoon characters.
Shirting - If you are only wearing a dress shirt make sure you nail the fit. Being swallowed by your shirt doesn't showcase you in a power position. French cuff shirts with links always add some elegance. Wearing it without a tie? If you're going to wear a undershirt, make sure it's a V-neck so the collar doesn't so the top doesn't stick out from the unbuttoned collar, we may love accessories but an underachievers ascot is never where it's at.
If you prefer a T-shirt or a knit make sure these pieces are refined rather than loud. Graphic Ts aka Jersey Shore are the fabric equivalent of jaundice, looks good on no one. Unless your T-Shirt is hand crafted like a Murcielago, add some more interest to your look with another layer. Tailored vest, lightweight cashmere v-neck or masculine (not Mr. Rogers) cardigan, or...
Sport coat - A modern, Italian cut sport coat is the easiest, most instant way to dress up and dignifiy what you're wearing. Looks just as stellar over a well selected T or dress shirt, with jeans or with slacks. And, provides you extra storage for your smart phone, wallet, and James Bond USB stick into poison dart key chain.
Accessories - Accessories pull your look together and are the finishing elements that make women want to touch you, and guys secretly jealous that they didn't think of wearing that too. As with everything else on your body, only wear the accessories that you feel confident in. A neatly folded pocket square in your sport coat pocket, a well woven straw fedora, a tie or for some more youthful edge, embellished bow tie, are just a few accessory options. Remember your belt does not need match your shoes, as noted earlier, it's about coordination not matching.
When it's all put together your natural swagger should be as noticeable as a Vuvuzela in a library. If all of this sounds scary and confusing, stop hyperventilating. Show up, order a Kettle One martini, mingle, and be your most comfortable self. Besides, confidence is the sexiest accessory.